Our Call to Steadfast Endurance
in These Times of Crisis
By Pastor Rene Ely
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
We did not know that this crisis was coming at the beginning of the year but the Lord knew and had prepared us brethren. Our Senior Pastor’s New Year message for the church “To be steadfast and strong in our faith in uncertain times” is the Lord’s instruction for us! We do not know how long our present
crisis will extend with all its uncertainties but in our call to stay steadfast and strong in our faith, we are certain that our God will give us the grace and power to endure and overcome in order to fulfill His holy purposes.
God’s Word is clear to our call of faithful endurance in our walk and faith: “Be steadfast and immovable” (1 Corinthians 15:58), “Let us not grow weary of doing good” (Galatians 6:9), “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). It is in these trying and depressing times that we should all the more humbly demonstrate this steadfast endurance and faithfulness.
The writer of Hebrews begins chapter 12 with the familiar “race” metaphor - a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds. Here the writer gave a strong challenge to encourage the believers who were in the midst of persecution to endure in their commitment and faith in Christ by giving them the list of the “heroes" of the faith – as examples of those who endured hardships during their earthly lives, their accomplishments and how God honored and worked through their true godly faith (Hebrews 11:1–3, 35–39).
We are all being reminded here that steadfast “endurance” is needed to run the race of our faith in Christ. One writer comments that this “endurance does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things, but the patience with a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected." We need a steadfast endurance that comes from the Lord who alone can supply the needed strength and wisdom that we need for each day.
Let us learn from the writer of Hebrews on three important instructions on how we can have this steadfast endurance: (1) Christ is our sole focus. (2) Christ is our faithful sustainer. (3) Christ is our ultimate example.
WE CAN STEADFASTLY ENDURE WHEN WE MAKE CHRIST AS OUR SOLE FOCUS
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus” means to look away from all else and to look steadfastly and intently on Jesus. The idea is to direct one’s attention without distraction, away from other things and continue looking to Jesus (His Person, Works and Ways) with undivided attention. We focus our eyes on Jesus so that we will not lose heart or grow weary (Galatians 6:9) The Psalmist reminds us to “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:4). This implies that we focus on His power, His majesty, His glory and His holiness.
Richard Phillips shared his insight: "Looking to Jesus is the ‘secret’ of the Christian life, the encouragement we need for our faith: to place our eyes not on the world with its enticements and threats, not even on ourselves with our petty successes and many failures, but on Him who is the source and fountain of all our spiritual vigor.”
WE CAN STEADFASTLY ENDURE WHEN WE DEPEND ON CHRIST AS OUR FAITHFUL SUSTAINER
“The author and perfecter of faith” means we look to Christ and draw our strength and endurance from Him because He is the giver and sustainer our faith from start to finish. Hebrews 13:21 says, "May God equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ." As believers, our life of faith began when we looked to the Lord and trusted Him for salvation (Isaiah 45:22). As we continue to keep our eyes of faith fixed on Him, we stand on the promise “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) until the time that with faith we will see Him in all of His glory (1 John 3:1-2).
It is the Lord that molds and deepen us in our faith. This growing faith sustained by the Lord will help us endure in our daily afflictions as we continually and trustingly look to Jesus as the “author and finisher” of our faith and we can rest assured of the overwhelming victory even in the midst of the storms of life. One writer said, “To have faith that endures trials, remember how God worked in the past, focus on doing His will in the present, and look to His promises in the future.”
WE CAN STEADFASTLY ENDURE WHEN WE HUMBLY FOLLOW CHRIST’S EXAMPLE
“Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” means our Lord endured hardship and persecution (Philippians 2:8-11), as well as temptation (Hebrews 4:15), but never wavered in His resolve to do the will of God the Father (Hebrews 5:8). Our Lord provided for us an excellent example of endurance on the cross because He looked beyond immediate, painful circumstances to the reward that was ahead. One version of the Bible states it this way: “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward.” Although the writer of Hebrews mentioned the “cloud of witness” – examples of those who steadfastly endured, yet it remains that our Lord Jesus is the ultimate example of Christian endurance.
This is the essence of godly faith: to trust God with our future, despite how hard it might be in the present (Philippians 4:12–13). Therefore, as believers we are encouraged to look beyond our present difficulties and look to God’s promised rewards. This also means that we have to trust God with our future, despite how hard it might be in the present. Our willingness to endure whatever implications of our present crisis should come from an understanding that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Maybe we started out with our focus on Jesus at the beginning of this crisis but are now getting distracted by our lingering situation that is leading us to anxiety, doubts and fears. Let us go back to our call to steadfast endurance by choosing to set our eyes on Jesus, who is now seated at the right hand of God in a position of rest, power, and all authority over all things. He should be our focus, our faithful sustainer and excellent example. It is as we choose to do so will the Holy Spirit give us strength and wisdom to help us endure as we focus on Christ.
We need to remember that our steadfast endurance is not dependent on our own strength. As Paul earnestly prayed for the Colossian believers in the midst of their difficulties, we are to pray to be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). As Paul’s prayed for the Roman Christians, we are to pray “that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
May our triune God alone receive the glory! God bless you all!